Devinsupertramp Wing Walking Video

The spring academic semester is finally over for most people, and students all across the country can take a sigh of relief as they put the nightmares from final exams behind them. I was personally very happy with my final grades, as I was able to maintain my GPA above a 3.5 for the 4th semester in a row. While I’d like to say that a generic number grade isn’t necessarily a good representation of how much you learned in a class, it sure feels great to score well and pass!

wing walking

As one of my final (required) blog articles, I thought I’d share one of my favorite videos that recently came out on YouTube, from Devin Graham. I’ve been a HUGE fan of his channel for several years now, and I love his filming techniques and attitude in general towards life. He’s extremely passionate about what he does, and focuses on creating visually stunning footage to showcase action from all over the world.

In his most recent wing walking video, him and his filming crew did a lot of aerial work with a Boeing Stearman and several other aircraft. They had some great locations to film at, and the final video released has been one of my all-time favorites! It’s one of those videos that I know I’ll still be re-watching 5 years from now!

To me, the video captures the pure excitement and feelings of adventure that are inherently present with aviation. Everyone has a story of how and why they became interested in flying, and almost nobody says it’s just about the money. People are passionate about aviation because it’s fun, it’s challenging, and no two flights are ever the same. Flying is a way to express yourself, and many people have described it as “complete freedom”. Wing walking on such a classic airplane seems like an amazing way to experience this.

I highly recommend watching the video on YouTube!


Dangers of VFR Flight into IMC

For general aviation pilots, instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) can often turn a normal flight into a life-or-death situation. If the aircraft is not equipped for IFR flight, or if the pilot is not proficient with the instruments, an emergency will quickly develop. Fortunately, there are many ways to avoid dangerous scenarios like that, and plenty of options to get out safely.

VFR flying is often relaxed and unstructured. With minimal training, the average pilot is legally qualified to fly in a broad range of weather conditions, as long as they meet the requirements for visual flight rules. Skipping weather briefings, ignoring warning signs, and yielding to external pressures are all possible reasons that a pilot might enter instrument conditions without being prepared for them. Often times it is not a conscious decision to fly in marginal weather. Usually it’s because the pilot in command delays a diversion or attempts to continue to the destination as the weather worsens.

To survive an unplanned IMC encounter, it is imperative that the pilot recognize the danger and treat the situation as an emergency. At that point, he can begin to use available resources to get down safely. Many instructors recommend using the autopilot, if the plane is equipped with one. If the plane just entered the clouds, the pilot has to make a decision to either execute a 180 degree turn, or he can try to descend/climb out of them. Immediately talking to air traffic control and getting help from them is also important. If there is a risk of icing, pitot heat and carburetor heat should immediately be switched on; the outside air temperature should also be closely monitored.

IFR flying is a very challenging task, and for any VFR general aviation pilot, it is definitely an emergency situation. Getting out safely all depends on how fast the pilot responds to the problem, and if he is able to stay collected and focused. Once someone begins to panic or become disorientated, it becomes near impossible to recover. Receiving instrument training is a great way to improve safety, and it helps pilots be more prepared for challenging weather conditions. Hopefully with a greater focus on risk management in training now, new pilots will be more aware of the dangers of flying VFR into IMC, and will take appropriate measures to fly within their personal safety limits.

Commercial Multi-Engine Training

These last two weeks were very exciting for me as I started my commercial multi-engine training. I’ve been flying the Piper PA-44 Seminole, which is a fairly common training aircraft that many other Part 141 schools use. I’ve gotten through six lessons so far, which have included one simulator session in the Red Bird and five actual flights with an MEI (Multi-Engine Instructor). We started out with basic maneuvers and handling practice, designed to help me become comfortable flying a more complicated aircraft. After that we did several cross-country flights, before jumping into asymmetric thrust.

I had to complete a day and a night VFR cross-country that each required a destination at least 100nm away. I was able to take a friend backseat for each flight, which made the trips more interesting. For one of the flights, we planned straight across the lake at 7,500ft to Milwaukee. For the other one, we went down south to Kokomo, IN. For me it was a good chance to become more familiar using the Garmin avionics, and to review navigational techniques and equipment. For the night landing we had to make it a full stop with a taxi back; even though the operating handbook gave us a landing length that was acceptable for the runway in use. Our school flight operations manual (FOM) has specific requirements that are often much more strict than what is legally required by the FAA, and the goal of these restrictions is to create a larger safety margin for training activities.

During the most recent flight, I was actually able to shut down and restart one of our engines. First we went through the touch drills and checklists with the engine just on idle, before actually pulling the mixture. I was surprised by the huge performance increase that feathering the prop caused. As soon as we got rid of the extra drag (by decreasing the propeller blade angle pitch to a fully feathered position), our airspeed increased about 5kts, and we were able to start a slight climb.

Seminole WingIt’s been a great experience so far, and I’ll be working on a few more sims and a flight tomorrow. I also need to get up to speed on my ground knowledge as I continue studying for the upcoming Progress Check. Most of that will cover basic system information and aerodynamics related to single-engine flight.

Short Article: Boeing 787 Systems Summary

This semester is almost over for me, with just 2 weeks of classes left before final exams! It’s hard to believe how fast it’s gone by. Realizing that I’m halfway through college is very encouraging though, and it makes me want to work even harder to finish up with the degree.

One of the classes I am just finishing up is Advanced Aircraft Systems. We are taking the class with a British professor, Martin Grant, who has been with the college for many years. He makes the class very interesting, and does a good job of breaking down complicated systems into smaller sections that are easier to understand and talk about.

One of the extra assignments we had for this week was to research some information on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from the Boeing website, and write a 2-page paper on some of its systems and design history. While most of the background information was quite familiar to me (I’ve followed the program since 2009) I still found plenty of new material about the aircraft specifications. I realized that I can finally understand the more complicated articles when they talk about bleed air systems, pneumatic pumps, and emergency oxygen systems. Going to class really does help!

It’s only two pages long, so I’m just posting it below. Enjoy the read!

PS> GlobalAir doesn’t have any for sale yet, so I’ll have to wait a few years before buying one.

Tailwing of a model Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft is pictured at the Boeing booth at the Singapore Airshow
The tailwing of a model Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft is pictured at the Boeing booth at the Singapore Airshow February 11, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Boeing 787 Systems Paper




The Boeing 787 is one of the most innovative wide-body aircraft of the 21st Century. It has become the most popular airplane to use on many long-haul routes, and both airline executives and passengers alike have come to love it. What is making this new aircraft so successful? The combination of modern technology, innovative design concepts, and a strong focus on a better passenger experience have all helped. Everything from the engines to the cabin lighting is different from earlier Boeing aircraft. Many of the new ideas that were tested on the 787 performed so well that Boeing chose to add the same features to their other models, including the 737 MAX, the 777-X, and the 747-8i. Overall the 787 Program has started its early years with tremendous success, and it shows no signs of slowing down.



Throughout the early 2000’s, Boeing’s long-term industry forecast started to shift to a more global map. They realized that most of the major airlines around the world were adding more direct flights, that would often cut out a stop by pushing the limit of their planes’ endurance. It was generally acknowledged by the travelling that public that transferring flights at a large, busy hub was undesirable, as it added several hours in a crowded airport. Airlines were also realizing that it was hard to fly routes with an aircraft as large as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A340, since many times the load factor would not be high enough to fill the planes to capacity.

The proposed solution that would help improve some of these issues and ensure Boeing’s success for the next 20-30 years was labeled the 7E7. According the Boeing website, the “E” was supposed to stand for the “efficiency” that the new aircraft would be designed with. The mid-sized aircraft would have operating costs low enough that would make it ideal for point-to-point flights from 2nd and 3rd tier cities, where the passenger load might not be high enough to use a 777 or 747. Boeing took a bold approach with the 787, and they were willing to take risks to pioneer new technologies that hadn’t been tested on transport category aircraft before. It was a gamble that they based the entire company’s future on, and it turned out to be a success.





The engineering team focused on creating an airplane with low “life-time” costs. With improvements in computer simulations and digital design programs, Boeing’s research showed that a large factor in determining the profitability of an airplane was long-term maintenance. By incorporating the one-piece composite barrel design for the main fuselage, Boeing eliminated the need for thousands of rivets and connection points, which translates to less required inspection and fixes for fatigued parts in the future.

Passengers travelling on the 787 often marvel at how airy and comfortable the cabin feels. This is because of the intentionally designed mood lighting, larger windows, and lower cabin altitude. The composite structure is very resistant to corrosion, which also allows for a higher humidity level. The cabin is quieter also, with the new engine technology incorporating a higher bypass ratio, laminar flow characteristics, and new nacelle shapes to reduce drag and noise.

The flight deck is also completely re-designed, with full digital displays for all system and instrument panels. With central maintenance computing functions (CMCF), much of the diagnostics on the aircraft systems and engines are completely autonomous, and they help reduce much of the pilot workload. The redesigned ergonomics also make it more comfortable for the pilot to fly for several hours at a time.



The 787 relies primarily on no-bleed electric systems to power the aircraft controls. This makes the airplane more efficient overall, by reducing weight avoiding the divergence of high-speed engine airflow to use for a traditional pneumatic system. The hydraulic systems (left, center, and right) are operated at around 5,000psi, with a flow of about 30 gpm. The two hydraulic pumps are both electric, and only one of them is required for normal operation in flight; the secondary pump acts as an auxiliary, coming on only during takeoff and landing. The environment systems for cabin pressurization come from low pressure air conditioning packs, which use clean air instead of traditional engine bleed air. This helps improve engine efficiency, while also avoiding many of the problems related to contaminated air.


Differences to earlier designed Boeing aircraft


Many of the differences with earlier aircraft models have already been briefly mentioned. Incorporating composites into the structural design was the biggest change, but there was also a much greater focus on the electrical systems throughout the aircraft. The 787 has much higher capacity battery power, which has been the cause of several electrical fires and related problems the airplane experienced. The better cabin environment is a huge improvement to earlier designs in the 757 and 767 family of aircraft. The 787 Dreamliner also has a noticeably greater wing flex, which helps the airplane absorb turbulence and stress forces more smoothly. Aesthetically it also looks much more streamlined and laminar than other planes.




In summary, the 787 Dreamliner is an excellent example of modern engineering capabilities that companies like Boeing have shown to possess. The clean slate design helps the plane to stand out from its competition, rather than just serving as a marginal upgrade to a similar previous model. Airlines and passengers alike will continue to appreciate the new features and lower operating costs for many years to come. As a passenger who has flown on the 787 several times, and as a future airline pilot, it is my opinion that the Dreamliner will continue to play an important role in airline expansion and route development for global markets.

High Performance Endorsement

I’ve always looked forward to passing check rides and earning ratings. Flight training in general is an enjoyable experience, but nothing beats the feeling of getting the final endorsement or receiving a new certificate in the mail. A few weeks ago I jumped on a special pricing deal at a nearby flight school (Kal-Aero), offering high performance endorsements in a Cessna 182 for a flat rate of $250. This would include up to 2 hours of flight time in the aircraft, and any necessary ground time. I had some scholarship money that I wanted to use for some flying outside of Western, so this was a perfect opportunity. I contacted one of the instructors that works at Kal-Aero who is also an alumni member of our Alpha Eta Rho chapter, and we set up a time that worked for both of us to fly.

The lesson started out with a quick ground, reviewing the definition of a high performance aircraft. This would just be any aircraft that has an engine with more than 200hp and has a constant speed propeller. The main challenge associated with flying a high performance airplane is learning to manage the pitch of the propeller, adjusting for proper manifold pressure and RPM. I had studied up before coming, so we only took about 20 minutes before heading out to preflight the airplane.

The Cessna 182 was a beautiful shade of blue, and it just looked like something fun to fly. We filled up with a full tank of gas, and got going right away. One of the main differences in the run-up was adjusting the prop control back and forth to check that the pitch is adjusting properly; this also helped cycle the warm oil throughout the propeller hub system. We taxied out to the runway, and got immediately cleared for a departure with “no delay”. With all the extra power, we climbed out at almost 2,000fpm. We also reduced power right away while still in the climb out, just to make sure we didn’t overheat/overstress the engine. It was also only my second time flying in a Cessna high-wing airplane, so it was fun getting used to the new sight picture and scan technique. The view out each side window looks very different in a steep turn, compared to a Cirrus or Piper low-wing.

After slightly over an hour of flying, we did a planned descent back to the Kalamazoo airport. My instructor explained that we don’t want to shock cool the cylinders, so it’s important to keep the manifold pressure in the green arc as much as possible. This makes it necessary to keep a lot of power in, so it’s not easy to “chop and drop” like you might in other planes. Using S-turns or 360 degree turns are a good technique to help get down to an assigned altitude without reducing power past the acceptable level.


For the last part of the flight, we practiced some pattern work and landings. The C182 tends to drop very quickly with the flaps extended, so I found it worked best to keep a lot of power in until we were in ground effect. As soon as I brought the power to idle, we’d start to sink right away. Pulling back on the yoke made the plane pitch up and touch down on the two main wheels nicely. All three of my landings were quite firm, but as long as I held the nose gear up, the plane seemed to land just fine.

After we taxied back in to the ramp and parked, all that was left to do was get my logbook signed and endorsed. We debriefed the flight and talked about some tips to remember for future flights in high performance planes. Overall it was a fun morning, and it was really quite easy to do. I’m happy to have one more endorsement finished, and maybe it will be useful at some point if I get to fly an SR22 or some other faster plane. Now this week I’ll just be flying in the Seminole again and working on my pattern in that. This semester is finishing out perfectly for me!


WMU College of Aviation Road Trip – Spring Break 2017

Last week during Spring Break I was able to take part in an exciting road trip with other students from the College of Aviation. This three-day trip was organized by Career Services to provide us with the opportunity to learn about several different airlines, and to better understand the career possibilities at each company.

I went with a group of five other Western students, who were a mix of freshmen, juniors, and seniors, with several different aviation-related majors. It was a fun group of people, and we got to know each other well by the end of the trip. We were also accompanied by the Career and Development Specialist for our college, and another doctoral student from the Department of Counselor Education. The two of them were the ones who really organized the trip, and they did all the driving!


We started the trip very early, and everyone was awake before 6am. We met outside Henry Hall (the aviation hall) and loaded everything into the van provided to us by the Lee Honors College. Our first stop, Republic Airline, was just under four hours away in Indianapolis, IN. Most of us fell asleep for the first several hours, but as we got closer everyone woke up and reviewed the research we had compiled about Republic before the trip. Later on it was helpful already having some questions ready to ask the recruiters and pilots we talked with.


When we arrived at the airport our group was met by two of the recruiters for Republic, Lauren and Sarah, as well as one of the pilots who had graduated from Western Michigan University a few years earlier. Our tour started with a presentation by one of the lead technicians from the maintenance department. He went over many interesting facts about how the airline history, fleet upgrades, and general maintenance practices. I enjoyed getting to look at several turbine blades that were passed around as example of damage that can occur to engines on a regular basis. Each of the blades were either bent out of shape, or had large dents and cuts in them.


Once we finished there, we proceeded to walk into the main hangar area where two Embraer ERJ-175’s were parked. We did a full walk-around, and afterwards sat inside the cockpit and first-class cabin. Of all the regional jets I’ve flown on as a passenger, ERJ’s are my favorite, so I especially enjoyed becoming more familiar with the systems and control layout. Even for such an advanced aircraft, all the switches and instruments looked very concise and straight-forward. With the spacious layout and well-designed FMS, all the systems can be easily monitored, and the navigation data can be entered very quickly.


Another place we visited was the training center for new flight crew. They were using a brand-new cabin trainer device, that simulates a cabin environment for the flight attendants. It’s helpful for practicing passenger announcements, meal services, security procedures, and emergency evacuations. It was even able to simulate a fire in one of the overhead luggage compartments, with flashing lights and clouds of thick smoke quickly filling the room before a flight attendant rushed over and extinguished it.



The last half of the day involved touring the main company headquarters, and meeting with a panel including the Maintenance Training Instructor, Director of Safety, and the Manager of Crew Scheduling for Republic. They talked about their various experiences with the company, and then opened the floor to any questions we had for them. Personally, I was most interested in the cadet program they started, which allows pilots with their instrument rating enrolled in a Part 141 school to complete a preliminary interview with the company. After joining the program, cadets are provided with a variety of resources, and are also paired with a mentor to help check up on their training status.


The whole day went by very quickly, and by the end, we were quite ready for dinner and some sleep. We picked a restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, but made the mistake of not calling ahead to make a reservation. Even though we had to split into two groups, the food was exceptional, and I ate almost a whole barbecued chicken. We stayed at the Hyatt Place that night, and our group met in the lobby before going to bed to debrief our first day.


The second day began with our group driving two hours to get to Dayton, OH. There we began our tour of PSA Airlines and their operations center. Two of their pilots gave us a short presentation about the company and growth outlook. One of the main advantages that we were told PSA offers is a direct flow through program with American Airlines. Once you’re hired by PSA, you don’t even have to interview a second time. Fast upgrade times also seemed to be a focus, and many of the people that we spoke with had been working with the company for less than two years. On one hand I felt hesitant about an organization that had such a high turnover rate, but on the bright side it is a great indicator of the strong growth that is present all across the industry.


As we walked around the main building and training center, we looked into several different classrooms that each had groups of around twenty flight crew. I heard from one of the captains that PSA had three new training classes starting just in the last month. When we walked into the main dispatch and scheduling center, it was easy to feel the change in pace. Everyone was busy talking on phones, monitoring several computer screens, or checking maintenance handbooks. There was a buzz of activity all around that had an exciting feel to it.


We were able to walk around and talk to people working at each department individually. Each person there had a unique responsibility, but they also had some connection to everyone else that required regular communication. Anytime that a maintenance technician diagnosed a problem that needed to be repaired, he had to coordinate with dispatch to arrange for a standby aircraft to be used. With the new aircraft, dispatch had to check with scheduling to see which flight crews were available to take an extra leg. The excellent coordination between everyone working together to ensure seamless and efficient airline operation impressed me. 17439563_1280364405378236_1998187354_n

The last part of the tour was around one of the Bombardier CRJ-900’s that was sitting on the ramp. We got to do a full exterior walk-around with one of the pilots, and we checked everything from the static ports to the landing gear and baggage compartment doors. Afterwards we also got to sit in the cockpit, and scroll through menus and system pages on the digital displays and flight management system. It was an amazing experience getting to do all of that ourselves, rather than just hearing someone talk about it.



As we finished up the afternoon and got ready to head out, we made sure to thank everyone there for having us. After that, we drove over to the Fairfield Inn, where we had an hour to rest before meeting back for dinner. We ate at the Corner Kitchen, a casual dining restaurant downtown that had excellent reviews. This time we were smarter and made sure to call ahead and make a reservation. After dinner, some of our group went back to the hotel, while myself and three other friends went out to the Scene 75 Entertainment Center. We had a great time there go-kart racing each other, and teaming up to take on another group of people in a laser tag battle. It was a fun way to end the day.


 The third and final day of our trip took us back to Michigan again. We were visiting the main operations center for Kalitta Air in Ypsilanti. We ended up having to detour around the airport on the back roads, because the plane that went off the runway with the Michigan Basketball Team was still blocking the main highway. We could actually see it across the tarmac, with plenty of emergency vehicles and a few news helicopters still loitering around the scene.


When we finally arrived, we met with the Director of Public Relations and one of the managers in Human Resources. We had a short presentation on the company, which especially focused on the history and founding of Kalitta Air. I found it remarkable that it has remained a family-run business for so long.

From there we split into two smaller groups to walk around on our tour. It was mostly just office buildings and training rooms, since most of Kalitta’s planes are based out of Oscoda, MI, or other locations. The dispatch room felt very similar to PSA’s, with a high energy level and plenty of people moving around and talking to each other. We stopped a few times to ask questions, and also answered some about ourselves. We met several different Western graduates, and we had a good time talking about the same classes that everyone had taken before. The main aspect of the company that I was interested in was their widebody aircraft fleet. I also liked that they primarily flew to international destinations, which is something that is definitely on my list of career goals. We heard several stories about the exotic destinations Kalitta Air has flown to. Some of these included countries in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak, when they flew in a 747 to deliver medical supplies. They also do contract flights for DHL and the Department of Defense. 17439670_1280359128712097_988385782_n

Once we switched back with the other group, we ended up at the Boeing 747-200 full motion simulator. I was thrilled that we actually got to fly in it! Compared to the other regional jet cockpits, the 747 was gigantic! Four crew members comfortably fit in the two front seats, flight engineer’s seat, and jump seat. It was completely different from what I had been expecting. Once we actually sat down and got strapped in, however, my instrument scan habits started coming back. It definitely didn’t feel “natural”, but I did recognize all the basic six pack instruments, as well as the ILS and VOR receivers. I really enjoyed flying around at 300kts, and trying to push the four, heavy throttle controls forward was immensely satisfying. With the full motion rig and 3D screens, it felt completely realistic like a real plane. Turbulence and engine noise added to the authentic experience. 17439605_1280359122045431_986407660_n

We finished up the 90 minute flight with an autopilot-coupled CAT III ILS Approach at night, with visibility set to RVR600. The instructor who was helping us out was an amazing person to talk to also. He had been flying as a captain on DC-8’s and 747’s all the way back from 1997, and it was easy to see just how proficient and experienced he was in the plane. Every control he touched looked completely natural, as if he didn’t even have to think about what he was doing.


After we finished up with the sims, we went back to the conference room for some lunch that Kalitta had provided. We finished up the road trip with a Q&A session with several WMU alumni, who all talked about their career paths and what they did after graduating. They were very positive and encouraging, and I greatly appreciated some of the advice they gave us. Several of them recommended getting an Aircraft Dispatcher License, which could be very useful for any dispatch or scheduling job outside of the cockpit. I’m going to try to get mine sometime before I graduate from Western!


That was basically the end of the trip, and it was just a short drive back to Kalamazoo. Overall it was a great Spring Break, and I thought it was one of the best trips I’ve been on. It was well-planned, and it covered many different aspects of the aviation industry. I appreciated seeing the differences between company cultures, training styles, and aircraft fleets. I feel like I have a better understanding of career opportunities at the three different companies, and hopefully that will help me as I try to pick a job in two years when I graduate.

I would 100% recommend anyone else to go on the trip next year!  



Joining a Flying Club

This last week I finally made the decision to become a member of a local flying club! I had originally met with the owner several months ago, in the middle of summer. I was interested in the idea of being able to fly outside of a Part 141 training environment, and specifically in being able to take up passengers without an instructor. The flying club based out of my airport seemed like the perfect way to be able to accomplish this. I delayed making a final decision until recently, mainly for financial reasons and because of my busy schedule. With the week of Spring Break coming up and warmer weather just around the corner, however, I decided it was the right time to try.

The process of joining was simple. I had to pay an annual membership fee, which goes towards paying for the aircraft insurance policy and hangar costs. After that I had to fill out an application with information about my flying experience, and complete an indemnity form. Sometime next week I still need to go apply to get a swipe key for access to the airport gate.

As of now, my first flight is scheduled for next Friday. I will be going up with one of the flight instructors from the club (and a member of Alpha Eta Rho, the aviation fraternity I am part of) and getting checked out in a Cessna 172. It should be an interesting transition, since I’ll be going from a full glass cockpit to traditional gauge instruments. Another major difference for me will be flying with a carbureted engine.

I’ve heard flying clubs can be a great way to become more involved in the general aviation community, and it should be fun getting to meet other club members. Hopefully it will make for some interesting blog articles this next month!

Crash Landing of Flybe Bombardier Dash Q400 – Landing Gear Collapse

This last week a Q400 experienced an emergency when trying to land at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. There were very high crosswinds for the runway in use, and apparently the significant crab angle and side loading that was used to get the plane down overstressed the right side landing gear, causing it to collapse. The plane skidded to a stop, damaging the wing, fuselage, and propellers. The incident was captured on video by both passengers inside the plane and by a spectator outside (George Pachantouris). Everyone made it out of the plane safely, and there were no fatalities or injuries reported.

This incident is a good example of the always-changing weather factors and how much they can affect a flight. With the high winds and inclement weather, perhaps a decision to cancel might have been a better option. Either way though, once the flight departed it was up to the flight crew to make a safe landing at their destination. At this point there is no conclusion about the exact cause of the accident, so nobody is blaming pilot error for causing the crash, although it is still a possibility that it had some role to play. Simply from watching the video, it looked to me like they were using proper crosswind corrections. In the two minutes of the approach and flare it’s easy to see how they were crabbing for the wind and then applying opposite rudder and bank into the wind to keep the aircraft’s longitudinal axis parallel to the direction of flight (straight down the runway). Perhaps it was just a slight mistiming or a technical problem that made the right side gear collapse.


On that topic of “armchair” speculation, Bombardier’s Dash Q400 series have actually had a long and troubled history of gear problems and unusual landing incidents. Back in 2007 specifically, Scandinavian Airlines experienced 3 different gear failures that actually led to them permanently withdrawing the aircraft type from service. Bombardier issued several service bulletins and advisory notices, but no major changes were ever made. Even before that, many other airlines had similar troubles.

Regardless of the cause for this incident, it was fortunate that all passengers and crew were fine, and most likely the aircraft will be able to be repaired and put back into service. Of course the cost to repair it will depend on how much of the other “expensive” parts have to be replaced completely. Since the propeller struck the ground also, the engine will most likely have to be inspected for damage/fatigue to all components inside.

Following current events and incidents that happen in aviation is a great way to stay up to date with the industry and to be aware of changes that might be happening in the future. It’s also just always interesting to see how the same general factors (like winds) that affect pilots in training have the same affect on the larger commercial flights that happen all the time.

Below is the copied page from Wikipedia that specifically lists other incidents. Note: I deleted select entries that were not applicable to this post, but please view this LINK if you want the full version.

  • On 17 April 2005, Tobago Express 534 made an emergency landing at Piarco International Airport Trinidad following a failure of the nose gear.[25]
  • On 13 March 2007, All Nippon Airways Flight 1603, a Q400 nose-landed safely at Kōchi Ryōma Airport after the front wheel of the aircraft failed to deploy. Bombardier advised all operators to inspect the nose landing-gear mechanism of the aircraft.
  • On 20 April 2007, a Dash 8 operated by Bahamasair suffered a port side landing gear collapse on landing at Governor’s Harbour Airport, Bahamas; no injuries were reported but inquiries continue. The aircraft suffered left wing and propeller damage, and was dismantled and shipped off-site.[28]
  • On September 21, 2007, Lufthansa Flight LH4076 (tail number D-ADHA) with 68 passengers and four crew members was on flight to Florence, Italy when problems with the front landing gear were identified. The pilots were forced to make an emergency landing at Munich Airport. The aircraft landed with its front landing gear up. There were no injuries.
  • On 10 October 2007, a SAS Denmark Q400 headed for Poland returned to Copenhagen when the pilots got problems with the indicator lights of the front landing gear. The pilots got a yellow indication that the front landing gear hatch didn’t close after taking off. Then they heard the hatch closing, then opening and closing again.[33][34]
  • On 12 October 2007, a Scandinavian Airlines flight scheduled for Copenhagen returned to Warsaw due to problems with the landing gear.[35]
  • On 16 November 2008, Flight 4551, a Dash 8-300 operated by Piedmont Airlines landed at Philadelphia International Airport without its nosegear. There were no reported injuries.[36][37]
  • On 13 February 2009, Austrian Airlines Flight OS780, operated by Tyrolean Airways, a scheduled flight from Skopje to Vienna failed to retract landing gear after take-off and returned to Skopje Airport.[38][39] [1]
  • On 12 May 2009, Colgan Air Flight 3268 reported tyre detachment after landing at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. It was discovered that a wheel bearing overheated and snapped, leading to the detachment.
  • On 30 September 2010, Air New Zealand subsidiary Air Nelson Flight 8841 was flying from Wellington International Airport to Nelson Airport but was diverted to Blenheim due to bad weather in Nelson, New Zealand. On landing, the nosegear on the Dash 8 Series 300 collapsed. No passengers or crew were injured.
  • On 9 February 2011, an Air New Zealand Bombardier Q300 Dash 8 aircraft – Flight NZ8309, operated by the subsidiary Air Nelson again suffered a nose wheel failure upon landing at Blenheim Airport. It had been scheduled to fly from Hamilton to Wellington (in the North Island), but was diverted to Blenheim after crew reported a problem with the undercarriage. After circling the airport four times, the aircraft landed with the nose gear undeployed coming to a stop approximately two thirds along the length of the runway. No injuries were sustained. A Transport Accident Investigation Commission report (#11-002), found a faulty inhibit switch caused the loss of nosewheel steering on departure and was the cause of the landing gear later not extending normally. The pilots were unable to utilise the alternate extension system as they did not apply enough force to the release handle for the uplock (or possibly did not hold the release handle in position long enough for the uplock to disengage). This was found to be at least in part due to the flight simulators not requiring the full 40 kg (90 lbs) or more force as required in the actual aircraft.[40] Image during landing here [2]
  • On 4 March 2011, a wheel fell off a Bombardier Q400 operating a Flybe flight from Exeter to Newcastle. The aircraft returned to Exeter and made an emergency landing, no one was injured. The AAIB report said the wheel bearing had seized and allowed the wheel to detach.[41]
  • On 7 March 2011, an Air Iceland Bombardier Q100 Dash 8 aircraft suffered a collapsed right landing gear whilst landing at Nuuk Airport, Greenland. Several of the 31 Passengers on board reported a severe crosswind gust immediately prior to the main gear touching down, which resulted in the aircraft drifting over and subsequently making contact with snow banks alongside the runway, causing the right gear to collapse.[42]
  • On 18 May 2013, US Airways subsidiary Piedmont Airlines Flight 4560, a Dash 8-100, made a belly landing at Newark International Airport after its left main landing gear failed to extend. No one was injured.[43]
  • On 27 September 2013, Croatia Airlines Flight 464 from Zagreb to Zurich – Dash 8 Q-400 registration number 9A-CQC landed without nose wheel at Zurich Airport. The crew noted that nose gear was blocked and has failed to lock into the position during first landing attempt. After performing go-around and circling for the next 40 minutes in the holding pattern, they made a second landing attempt and landed safely on runway 14 at 18:18 GMT/UTC without nose wheel. There were no injuries among 60 passengers and 4 crewmembers, while the aircraft sustained no major damage.[44]
  • On 6 November 2014, Jazz (airline), operating as Air Canada Express Flight 8481, from Calgary to Grande Prairie – Dash 8 Q-400 made an emergency landing at Edmonton International Airport. One of the main landing gear tires apparently blew on takeoff. Due to bad weather in Calgary, the pilot redirected to Edmonton. During landing in Edmonton, the right side main landing gear collapsed, injuring 3 people among 71 passengers and 4 crew members. The aircraft sustained damage, including a propeller penetrating the cabin, causing one of the injuries.[45][46]
  • September 17, 2016: airBaltic flight BT641 using a Bombardier Q400 NextGen (registered YL-BAI) from Riga to Zurich made an emergency landing at Riga Airport without its nose landing gear deployed. There were no injuries among 63 passengers and 4 crewmembers.[48]


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Lesson 155 – Flight into Class Bravo Airspace


I had a blast last Friday, flying for nearly 5 hours straight! I split one of the Cirrus lessons with a friend, and together the two of us flew into KCVG in Kentucky. It was especially memorable because it was the first time we had been to a Class B airport without an instructor onboard. I figured I might as well start getting comfortable with larger, busier airports, since I’ll have to be flying into those on a regular basis in the future.


In all reality though, the hardest part of the whole flight was taxiing once on the ground! Getting in wasn’t even hard at all. We got a 10 mile straight-in final approach, and it didn’t sound like there was much traffic in the area. Most of the airport’s flights depart later in the evening, so we arrived during a slower time. Even without a lot of traffic, however, it was still a challenge to keep up with taxi instructions! Many of the taxiways and exits have the same letter designation but just different numbers, and with them being wide enough for “heavies” it can be hard to distinguish between them. With a bit of help from Foreflight and a friendly controller though, we managed to get around without a problem. We actually parked at the Delta Jet Center FBO right at the same time as another CRJ 200 charter flight was arriving with the Memphis Women’s basketball team. I was delighted to find out that the FBO provided the same free pretzel packs that you get on commercial flights!


We purchased about 20 gallons of fuel with the school’s fuel card, which helped us avoid paying the ramp fee. We left right after that, and flew just over 200nm back to Battle Creek, MI. Along the way we had fun with some of the CTAF frequencies, trying to see if we could turn on the pilot-controlled lighting. During the long flight, I greatly appreciated the autopilot and relaxed atmosphere, since we really didn’t have much to do the whole time. Besides cross-checking checkpoints and talking to approach controllers we basically just told fun stories and took pictures. It felt a lot better than the usual short flights we do with a lot of demanding maneuvers and approaches within a short time period. class-bravo

If all goes well, my next lesson will be in the Piper Seminole PA-44! I can’t wait to practice asymmetric thrust procedures and learn how to manage engine failures. Here’s to hoping this good weather keeps holding up. Below is the video I filmed of our approach and landing into KCVG.



Night Cross-Country Flights and First Night Solo

The weather was finally good enough to get back in the air! For the first time in over 5 months, I started flying again. I’m working on finishing off five flights in the Cirrus SR-20 that need to be completed before flying the Piper PA-44 Seminole. The first two lessons were dual flights with an instructor, and we basically just practiced landings and pattern work. It had been a while since I flew VFR traffic patterns, since all summer I had been learning approach procedures and generally doing straight-in landings. It was fun getting back to the basics though, and after two or three landings it all felt natural again.

It was also helpful for me to review cross-country planning and procedures for uncontrolled airports. Looking up airport information in the chart supplement helped know beforehand what type of lighting was available and which frequency to activate them on. (Since it’s not always the CTAF) When picking checkpoints at night, it is usually easiest to pick lighted towers, roads, or urbanized areas. With good visibility, it can even be easier than during the day to identify the points.

For the second dual flight I was able to take my dad flying backseat. It was marginal VFR all over lower Michigan with clouds around 2,500 AGL, but it seemed that the weather wasn’t getting any worse. We decided it was good enough to go, and we just tried our best to keep the flight short. Our flight went from Battle Creek to Flint, Flint to Lansing, and finally Lansing back to Battle Creek. While climbing out from Lansing we flew right over downtown and were able to spot the capitol building. Finally, just yesterday evening, I did my first night solo. It was one of my most enjoyable flights ever! It only lasted about 45 minutes, but I was able to fly over to KAZO and do 3 trips in the pattern. Along the way I encountered winds aloft of over 50kts at just 3000ft.

Although initially I was not comfortable flying at night, these lessons helped me get over that and increase my confidence. Now it’s actually become very enjoyable, and I look forward to more night flights in the future.